MLB Rumour Roundup: Can Blue Jays make a splash at Winter Meetings?

Sportsnet's Hazel Mae is joined by MLB insiders Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith from the MLB's Winter Meetings as they weigh in on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, how high the stakes have been to court him and a potential Juan Soto trade.

As MLB’s off-season has gotten off to a slow start, waiting for Shohei Ohtani to pick his next team, a shift to Nashville for the annual Winter Meetings this week could open the door for the transactions to start flowing.

For the Toronto Blue Jays, who are reportedly in the mix for Ohtani, speculation season has them in the mix for more than just the Japanese superstar.

On Friday, The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal, Dennis Lin and Brendan Kuty wrote a piece that provided an update on the Juan Soto trade talks between the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres.

Not only did they report that the two teams were “far apart” on a deal, but they also said that the Blue Jays “are one of several teams talking” about a Soto trade with the Padres.

As San Diego looks to move off money, the Yankees emerged as the early leader to acquire the three-time All-Star, but have reportedly called the Padres’ asking price “unrealistic.”

Outside of Ohtani and Soto, there are sure to be some deals struck as executives, players and agents get settled in the Music City. Before the festivities kick off, here are some of the latest rumours from around MLB.

Are the Blue Jays a ‘real contender’ for Soto?

While The Athletic‘s article connected the Blue Jays to Soto, SNY‘s Andy Martino and Z101 Digital‘s Hector Gomez poured gas on the fire Saturday.

Martino reported that trade talks between New York and San Diego continued to be quiet and that “rivals see Toronto as a real contender for Soto, but believe they are waiting to see if they’re getting Ohtani.”

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Gomez, meanwhile, said that the Blue Jays had intensified talks with the Padres and now “emerge as the favourites to land Soto.”

The Padres asking price for the 25-year-old is extremely high, according to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. He reported Sunday that the team was asking the Yankees for seven players, including right-handed starter Michael King and the team’s No. 5 prospect Drew Thorpe.

Soto is entering his final year of team control and is projected to earn $33 million in arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors.

Ohtani ‘likely’ to sign within the week

According to MLB Network‘s Jon Morosi, Ohtani is “likely to decide on a team within the next week.”

While much of the baseball world gathers in Nashville, Sportsnet‘s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported that the two-way star is hosting select teams in Los Angeles this weekend.

Nicholson-Smith also reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers are still considered the favourites with the Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels and possibly others still involved.

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Sunday afternoon, The New York Post‘s Jon Heyman reported that Ohtani “is believed to already have received multiple bids well north of $500 million” with some speculating that offers could end up reaching close to $600 million.

Heyman also reported that “some have estimated Ohtani’s off-field value to the [signing] team to be between $20 million and $35 million.”

Korean OF Lee has suitors in two-thirds of MLB teams

Korean outfielder Jung-hoo Lee should have quite the market when he is posted by the KBO league’s Kiwoom Heroes.

Despite missing a chunk of the 2023 season after undergoing ankle surgery, Lee still slashed .318/.406/.455 over 86 games. The 25-year-ol won the league’s MVP in 2022 and has consistently been one of the top defensive outfielders in the league.

Nightengale reported Sunday that the New York Mets have a “strong interest” in Lee, joining the Yankees, Padres and San Francisco Giants as clubs known to be interested in his services.

While those four clubs have been reported, Heyman said on Nov. 23 that Lee “has 20 teams after him.”

Rays receiving interest in multiple players

The Tampa Bay Rays had already been rumoured to be shopping starter Tyler Glasnow as the right-hander is due $25 million in the final year of his contract.

But according to ESPN‘s Jeff Passan, the team has also received calls around outfielder Randy Arozarena.

Passan said, “With Arozarena set to make around $9 million this year, plus two arbitration raises beyond that, the Rays could move the 28-year-old for a significant windfall.”

He also listed Isaac Paredes, Brandon Lowe, Harold Ramirez and Manuel Margot as “others potentially on the trade block.”

Paredes is specifically a name to watch, according to Morosi, saying “the Rays will listen” on the 24-year-old third baseman.

Morosi listed the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners as teams that would be interested in Paredes.

Orioles looking at relief market

After winning the AL East in 2023, the Baltimore Orioles are reportedly looking at bolstering the back end of their bullpen.

Star closer Felix Bautista underwent Tommy John surgery in October, and will likely miss all of 2024, increasing Baltimore’s need for relief help. Orioles general manager Mike Elias said in early November that the team wants to add a proven reliever to its pitching staff.

Heyman reported on Thursday that Baltimore has been in contact with free agents Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman and Jordan Hicks.

In addition to contacting some of the more well-known names available, the team has also shown interest in former Rays reliever Robert Stephenson, Morosi reported Saturday.

Quick hits

– The Dodgers have been linked to pitchers  Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty and Seth Lugo, according to the Los Angeles Times‘ Jack Harris, with Giolito emerging as a “main priority” for the team.

– Catcher Martin Maldonado has drawn interest from the Angels, Padres, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins, according to The Athletic‘s Chandler Rome and Nightengale.

– Cleveland Guardians and former Cy Young winning pitcher Shane Bieber, who has been rumoured to be available via trade this off-season, is “open to a long-term extension with an acquiring team,” Heyman reported Thursday.

Rosenthal also reported Thursday that “teams are interested” in Marlins pitchers —specifically Edward Cabrera and Trevor Rogers — but Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett are “almost certainly off-limits.”

On Sunday, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reported that he has heard “the Jays might try to get out from under George Springer’s deal as part of their off-season work.” The 34-year-old has an eight-team no-trade clause.

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